NCREE breaks ground on facility in Greater Tainan

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Jan 07, 2015 - Page 4

The National Center for Research on Earthquake Engineering (NCREE) yesterday celebrated the groundbreaking of its second research facility, on National Cheng Kung University’s Gueiren campus (歸仁) in Greater Tainan. The facility will feature a more intricate earthquake shaking table than its Taipei counterpart to assess buildings’ seismic performance in simulations to safeguard public safety during earthquakes.

The facility, scheduled to be completed by the end of next year and tested in a trial run in 2017, will cost an estimated NT$1.3 billion (US$41 million), including NT$1.1 billion in subsidies from the Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Development Council, and NT$100 million from the National Applied Research Laboratories and the university.

Designed to target near-fault effects — the effects an earthquake has on structures in a 10km diameter from the epicenter — of seismic activity, the facility is to feature a shaking table capable of measuring lateral displacement within a 2m range, while simulations conducted at NCREE in Taipei can only produce measurements of under 15cm and are meant to approximate ground motion on a broader scale.

Vice Premier Simon Chang (張善政) said at the ceremony that near-fault ground motion during earthquakes put an estimated 2.5 million buildings and 8.6 million people nationwide at risk. However, the NCREE does not currently possess the technology to approximate the effects such seismic activity has on buildings.

The facility will therefore enable simulations that meet the needs of the public and serve as a much-needed complement to its Taipei counterpart in the field of earthquake engineering, he said.

NCREE researcher Yang Ho-hsiung (楊鶴雄) said the seismic response of structures is determined by placing their models on the shaking table, which then operates at a high speed to conduct tests using data produced during previous seismic events. The table’s design includes six degrees of freedom to determine a buildings perpendicular, lateral and torsional movements during an earthquake.

“For example, the degree of a building’s land surface displacement caused by near-fault ground motion during the 921 Earthquake [in 1999] can be determined using this method,” he said.

“In the future, government agencies, schools, construction companies and consultancies may apply for the service with the research facility while designing a new building or reinforcing the structure of an existing structure, thereby improving public safety,” Yang said.

The facility will be convenient for the petrochemical plants, smelters and technology firms in southern Taiwan, whose pipelines, fuel tanks and other equipment require a high degree of shock resistance, he said.